Newsday reported last week that a New York psychiatrist was indicted for allegedly participating "in a nationwide scheme to promote the prescription drug Xyrem to physicians ... for unapproved medical purposes and to conceal the fact from insurance companies." The indictment further alleged that the physician "conspired with the company that made Xyrem, Orphan Medical Inc, in Minnetonka, Minn., to promote it for unapproved uses including chronic pain and weight loss. Orphan Medical allegedly relied on ... [him] to give lectures promoting Xyrem to physicians and paid him tens of thousand of dollars to do so."
Xyrem is the trade-name for sodium oxybate, better known as gamma hydroxybutyrate, or GHB, which is popularly known as a "party drug" and has been linked to date-rape. It has been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) only for a narrowly defined group of patients with cataplexic narcolepsy, under strict conditions (see the relevant FDA site here.)
The physician's attorney said "our client adamantly maintains his innocence and looks forward to his day in court."
Note that Orphan Medical Inc has actually been acquired by Jazz Pharmaceuticals. Newsday noted "although physicians can prescribe drugs for a variety of uses, pharmaceutical companies may only market them for FDA-approved treatments." Yet, the news article was silent about any actions being taken in response to the pharmaceutical company's role in the allegedly "nationawide" "health care fraud and conspiracy." This silence is especially curious because of the singular dangers posed by this particular drug. Stay tuned on this one.
Thanks to for Capsules for the tip.
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